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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Increase your impact and reduce your cost of giving in the final days of 2014

Increase your impact among the world's poorest families and reduce your cost of giving by as much as 40 - 50%.

As 2014 draws to a close we want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support this year.

We also want to remind you that you have just a few days left this year to reduce your cost of giving by as much as 40 - 50% through the income tax savings your gift creates.

Many donors make their end-of-year gift one of their most generous, increasing their impact among the poor and making full use of the final tax-saving opportunity of the year.

To claim your donation on your 2014 income tax, please ensure you make your online donation on or before December 31, 2014. If you choose to mail-in your donation, make sure to date and mail (post mark) your donation on or before December 31, 2014.

Donate Online
Make your online donation on or before December 31, 2014.


By Mail
Date and mail (post mark) your donation on or before December 31, 2014. Please indicate what your gift is for on your cheque. Our mailing address is:

HOPE International Development Agency
214 Sixth Street
New Westminster, BC  V3L 3A2

By Phone
Call us toll-free on or before December 31, 2014 at 1-866-525-4673.

Learn more about HOPE International Development Agency

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Ending hunger in Kunduz, Afghanistan

Last week we discussed the hunger families in Afghanistan face. This week, the story continues as we share the renewed hope that families are finding as they gain the capacity to store grain in their villages.

In Afghanistan, families are forced sell their produce at harvest time because they no way of storing the harvest – the worst time of year to sell because demand for grain is low and the supply is abundant. As a result, families receive little for their hard work and are only able to set aside a small amount of grain for themselves until the harvest the following year.

As autumn gives way to winter, families hand-grind their wheat, making flour, which will be carefully rationed out until spring. Ironically, it’s in the spring, when the next crop is planted and growing, that families experience hunger at its worst. They’ve planted the last of their grain and the flour has run out. Or maybe worse, they ate their grain, driven by hunger, and now had nothing left to plant.

Ending hunger among the families in Kunduz, Afghanistan

Initially, HOPE International Development Agency assisted hungry families by providing emergency grain supplies, both for eating and planting.

After ensuring that families had enough to eat and were able to grow a reasonable harvest, we helped them form a committee responsible for building up and managing a community grain supply. The next step was to help them build simple storage buildings to store the grain after each harvest.

The grain storage buildings made it possible for families to safely store their harvests and avoid having to sell a portion of the harvest when prices were at their lowest.

Families now have food all winter long, and if needed, can borrow grain for planting in the spring. Excess grain is now sold at a good market price in the spring when it is in high demand. But most importantly, families and their communities have a reliable source of grain throughout the year.

All of this means that families are building up their supply of grain and food. They are rebuilding their health and today, always have enough to eat. With their nutritional needs met, families are building healthy lives, strong and resilient livelihoods, and contributing to improving the local economy.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The consequences of hunger - a closer look

In a recent post we highlighted the devastating consequences of hunger and what’s being done to ensure the world’s poorest families have enough to eat.

In this, the first of two posts, we explore how hunger affects families in one of the most rugged places on earth - Afghanistan.

Hunger is a major problem for families living in the rugged region of Afghanistan’s Kunduz province. Families go hungry regularly and suffer from chronic undernourishment. In fact, 59 percent of children under the age of five are well below the norm in terms of height and weight.

The most striking physical feature of Kunduz, particularly, the village of Jeloucha where HOPE International Development Agency has been helping families for nearly a decade, is what you don’t see when you cast your gaze to the river that borders one side of the village and the mountains that rise up behind the village.

There are no trees, no grasslands, and no vegetation, not even at the foot of the steep, barren mountains that tower over the village. Deforested decades ago during times of conflict, nothing has grown back.

The only way in and out of the Jeloucha is via roads best described as goat trails. These trails connect the people of the village to other villages and markets for buying or selling a bit of wheat, a few melons, or perhaps a small cow. Wintertime is especially challenging and bleak.

The most striking thing about the people Jeloucha is what decades of adversity has done to them. There’s been little opportunity to replant forests or rebuild crumbling infrastructure. Put differently, there’s been no incentive to do so when the only life they have known has been chronically unstable.

Living in a place like Canada, surrounded by abundance, especially during the Christmas season, it’s nearly impossible to imagine what it must be like to live in a village like Jeloucha.

Over the years, families in Jeloucha have sold nearly everything they own in an effort to survive and many are simply out of options. Meager harvests have made the situation even worse, especially in the winter, when it’s not uncommon for families to eat only one small meal per day because they’re dangerously low on food.

HOPE International Development Agency is working to overcome chronic hunger by providing food in lean times and helping rebuild grain stocks and establish food grain banks in an effort to help families grow more food throughout the year. As a result, families who were once downtrodden and overwhelmed by the constant struggle to survive are now finding hope.

Next week we will share more about what hope looks like for families who are doing everything they can order to ensure that they have enough food to eat throughout the year.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A greater challenge begins to emerge in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagupit

Dec 11, 2014 - Meeting the immediate needs of families in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagupit, a massive storm that slammed into the Philippines this past weekend, is challenging.

An equal or perhaps even greater challenge, however, will be helping families rebuild their lives as the recovery process begins in earnest this week and in the coming weeks.

Nearly a million people are returning to their homes, uncertain of what they will find.

Many families had their homes damaged and livelihood activities severely disrupted and need to get back to earning income as quickly as possible.

In addition, families who were in the process of harvesting crops may have lost a portion or all of their harvest because of the disaster.

Families who were beginning to plant crops need to repair their fields and get back to planting their next harvest.

HOPE International Development Agency is helping storm-affected families get back on their feet and we need your help – because recovery, for families who endured the storm, begins with your donation.

Donate Today

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Philippines - Recovery efforts need to begin immediately as nearly 1 million people return to their homes after Typhoon Hagupit

Dec 8, 2014 - The situation in battered communities throughout the Philippines this week remains uncertain in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagupit, a massive storm that lashed the country on the weekend.

Amidst the uncertainty, one thing, however, is certain - families who braved the storm’s 180 kilometer per hour wind gusts and 600 millimeters of rain need our help as soon as possible. Our colleagues are on the ground in the storm-affected areas and are already assessing the damage and offering assistance.

Recovery efforts need to begin right away. Homes have been damaged or destroyed and many families have lost their food supply for the coming weeks.

Donations to HOPE International Development Agency will provide direct support for families in the aftermath of the storm, helping them recover as quickly as possible.

The storm, the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane here at home, has dealt a cruel blow to families in its path, especially those who were still struggling to recover from last year’s killer storm, Typhoon Haiyan.

Still traumatized by the destruction and loss of life caused by Typhoon Haiyan last year, nearly 1 million people fled their homes, seeking shelter and safe places.

The 1 million people making their way home this week do not know what awaits them – this is especially sad as Christmas approaches.

We are working to ensure that hope awaits their return and help is readily available.

Recovery, for families affected by the storm, begins with your gift.

Donate Today

Thursday, December 4, 2014

No electronic gizmos or big screen TVs - just gifts that transform lives in the poorest places on earth

None of the latest electronic gadgets or large flat screen TVs appear in this catalogue – just huge opportunities to transform lives.

Every gift inside this year’s HOPE International Development Agency GIFTS OF HOPE Christmas Catalogue has the power to help lift people out of poverty.

As little as $60 gives shelter, food, clothing, and much more, including an education, to a child in Ethiopia orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Education kits give children everything they need to be successful in learning.

Desks, for rural classrooms, give children a place to do their schoolwork.

Chickens, pigs, and sheep give families a way of becoming self-sufficient and healthy.

Training, tools, and seeds provide a way for families to become self-reliant.

Clean water reduces disease and enables families to focus on improving their lives rather than constantly searching for water.

You'll find all of this, plus more, in HOPE International Development Agency’s 2014 Gifts of Hope Christmas giving catalogue.

Give as many gifts as you wish. You can even give gifts on behalf of loved ones, friends, or co-workers. We'll send them a personal note, telling them about the gift and the give

Browse this year's Gifts of Hope giving catalogue.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Hidden hunger" a major problem in developing countries despite gains made in reducing hunger

Great strides have been made in reducing hunger in the developing world over the past 2 decades, according to the 2014 Global Hunger Index (GHI).

The state of hunger in developing countries, as a group, has fallen by 39 percent since 1990. Yet despite this progress, 805 million people are still chronically undernourished because they don’t get enough to eat.

Equally important, but harder to measure because it goes beyond simply counting calories, is the fact that a staggering 2 billion people within the 120 developing countries measured in the GHI consume so few essential vitamins and minerals from the food they eat that they are undernourished, even though they consume enough calories per day to be considered free from hunger.

This type of undernourishment, referred to as “hidden hunger”, is an aspect of hunger often overlooked. The impact of hidden hunger on the poor is devastating. It weakens the immune system, impedes physical and intellectual growth, and often leads to death.

Eating the right food is as important as having enough to eat

In the developing countries where HOPE International Development Agency partners with families and communities, both hunger and hidden hunger must be addressed if families are to have any hope of moving beyond poverty.

Helping families and communities grow more food is just one part of the solution. Helping them grow the right kind of food - those rich in the essential vitamins and minerals people need in order to avoid chronic undernourishment - is equally important. One without the other simply leads to full stomachs but chronically undernourished bodies.

Ensuring families are free from hunger and undernourishment

Eliminating hunger and undernourishment is part of every effort made to help families lift themselves out of poverty.

For example, when working with communities to provide reliable sources of clean water, health education is also provided, ensuring that families, particularly mothers, know the kinds of foods that provide a high level of nutrition.

In addition to health education, families are provided with the training and resources needed to grow nutritious food in their home gardens made possible by having access to water, rather than just calorie-rich, nutrient-poor foods.

Helping the 805 million and the hidden 2 billion

Regardless of the initiative, every HOPE International Development Agency partnership with communities and families in the developing world works to address hunger, both the obvious kind and the hidden kind, in an effort to help families become self-sufficient and healthy.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hardship leads to harder choices in Cambodia

Huot (second from right) with her youngest son (right), her two daughters (immediate left and center), and two nieces (left) who came to help prepare the family garden. Missing: Huot’s husband and 2 sons.

For more than 20 years, HOPE International Development Agency has been working with families in Cambodia, enabling them to lift themselves out of poverty and become self-reliant.

In a previous post, “A Field of Possibilities”, we shared the story of Nara and Chek and their journey to freedom from poverty.

Today, we bring you Huot’s story as we continue a series focused on how poverty impacts families around the world.

Huot’s story demonstrates how poverty defines people’s choices, and that no choice, small or big, is ever easy when you are trapped in poverty.

Looking at the recent photo of Huot and her family (shown above) you would never know that poverty had once nearly tore them apart.

Today, thanks to friends of HOPE International Development Agency, Huot, her husband, and their five children are thriving. They have a well that provides them with clean water every day, and a lush vegetable garden that supplies them with nutrient-rich food to eat. They also earn additional income by selling surplus vegetables from their garden at the local market.

Yet just a year ago, life was completely different for Huot and her family. Poverty had them in its grasp.

Huot’s family. Due to a family debt, their eldest son (far left) worked for another family as a domestic helper.

Shortly before this photo was taken, Huot’s husband had fallen gravely ill. As a result, the family was forced to take out a loan to pay for his medical treatment.

At the time, Huot’s husband was supporting the entire family on his meagre wages as a day labourer. The income he earned was simply not enough to cover the debt, but nonetheless, the debt had to be paid.

Huot and her husband were left with a choice no parent would ever want to face.

As the eldest child, Huot’s son (shown on the far left in the above photo) would have to leave home to live with another family in another community, as a domestic helper to repay the family debt. In doing so, he was unable to attend school or see his family or friends. Huot’s family tried visiting her son when they could, but they were only allowed to see him sporadically and the trip was costly and difficult for everyone.

Thankfully, because of the support Huot and her family received from friends of HOPE International Development Agency, they no longer live in this devastating situation. Huot’s son has since returned home and the family has successfully paid off all of its debt.

Sadly, the situation Huot and her family found themselves in is not only heartbreaking, but far too common in the developing world. Families living in poverty are often torn apart.

When deeply impoverished families like Huot’s are faced with crisis – whether it be health-related like a sudden illness, accident, or death or environmental like a natural disaster, fire, or crop failure – choices are limited and painful. The savings or credit needed for families to manage unexpected events or emergencies simply do not exist because of the depths of poverty they face.

Situations of utter desperation, like the one Huot and her family faced, force many families into extortionate financial arrangements that leave them with insurmountable debt and unthinkable choices.

With the gift of clean water and agricultural training, Huot and her family received, they are now much healthier and happier. Huot’s son and his siblings are able to regularly attend school with their friends and are eager to learn so that they have a chance at a better future.

Most importantly, Huot’s family is self-sufficient and able to save some of the income they earn through their gardening activities so that they are better prepared should they ever be faced with another family emergency.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Poverty affects the mind as much as the body

New research from the International Food Policy Research Institute shows that people’s aspirations are closely tied to their present well-being. We need look no further than our own lives to know that this is true.

Our aspirations, or lack there of, influence the decisions we make on a daily basis, as well as those that shape our future.

If we constantly face extreme challenges, such as those faced by people who live in poverty, poor health, and uncertainty, it can be difficult to make good decisions, let alone seek out help or support, even if it is readily available.

The most vulnerable in our world – women, rural families, and those living in areas of instability caused by conflict or climate change – live in extremely challenging situations, and as a result, often believe that they have little control their own well-being.

In essence, poverty victimizes people not only in their daily lives, but in their minds as well, as it crushes any aspirations for a better life. Poverty is perpetuated when people lose hope.

Families, for example, often need help and encouragement in order to see the opportunities available to them. They need help with nurturing their hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a better future.

It is not that these families do not aspire to a better life, it just that after so many years of disappointment and hardship it can be hard to look beyond trying to find the next meal.

In Cambodia, HOPE International Development Agency seeks out families living on the margins of society, literally at the edge of the jungle, visiting them week after week in an effort to convince them that a better life is possible.

In Ethiopia, part of our work is to show families and community leaders that we are committed to them, and will help them envision a better life and then make it happen, together.

Helping families and communities aspire to be free from poverty is as important as the work of helping them gain access to clean water, grow more food, receive an education, improve their health, and generate a sustainable income.

The goal is to free people from poverty, both in their everyday lives and in their minds. A body free from poverty is a healthy body. A mind free from poverty is a mind that can aspire to a way of life that remains free from poverty.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Poverty forces people to make unthinkable choices

The impact of poverty throughout the developing world is devastating.

Families in countries like Bangladesh endure chronic hunger, illness, and homelessness, to name just a few of the obvious challenges people live with every day. And without the ability to break the cycle of poverty, generations of families have few options and even less hope as each year passes.

Over the next several weeks a new series of stories will explore a few of the less obvious, but equally devastating challenges faced by the families living in poverty. Many of whom are forced to make unthinkable choices they would never otherwise consider – all because of poverty.

We begin the series with Sujon. In a recent story, we learned how Sujon and his family became hopeful and optimistic about their future thanks to the support they received from friends of HOPE International Development Agency. The road that led them to this point, however, was not without its challenges and heartbreak.

Sujon’s heartbreak came on a sunny afternoon when he was 4-years old.

Today, 13-years later, Sujon still vividly remembers his mother saying to him, “Babu, I am going to buy apples for you.” At the time, he had no idea that these words were the last he would hear from his mother. She never returned – it was the last time he saw her.

The level of poverty and deprivation Sujon and his family lived in was simply too overwhelming for his mother and forced her to make an unthinkable decision – a decision she would never otherwise consider had it not been for poverty. Sujon’s mother felt that in order to survive she would have to leave her children and husband behind.

The impact of poverty is often obvious. But as you can see, what it does to a person’s heart and mind can be less obvious, yet equally devastating, as was the case with Sujon’s mother.

The entire situation was and is tragic. And although what happened to Sujon is rare, many families around the world lose a parent to the destructive forces of poverty.

When families live in extreme poverty, life is difficult beyond anything we can imagine. This is why HOPE International Development Agency works to enable families throughout the developing world to gain access to life-changing things like clean water, livelihood training, medical care, and education.

Having clean water, income, medical care, and an education make it possible for families facing unthinkable choices to make much better decisions than they would if poverty was not overwhelming their lives. They are able to make different decisions, together, with much better outcomes.

It is not possible to replace what Sujon and his family lost because of poverty, but it is possible to enable them to create a much better life for themselves – a life that is free from poverty and the unthinkable choices it forces.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gifts of Hope Christmas Catalogue brings joy to the giver and hope to the receiver!

HOPE International Development Agency’s Gifts of Hope Christmas giving catalogue is full of gifts that will lift people out of poverty.

Each gift in this year's catalogue will bring hope to people in great need and joy to you as you give.

Give as many gifts as you wish. You can even give gifts on behalf of loved ones, friends, or co-workers. We'll send them a personal note, telling them about the gift and the give

Browse this year's Gifts of Hope giving catalogue.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

From arms to farms in Kauswagan, Philippines

  Creating a harvest of hope, one family at a time.
People living in places like Kauswagan, on the Philippine island of Mindanao, have suffered for decades.

Conflict, economic disparity and social strife, rather than peace and productivity, have been the defining features of the area which has a wide range of religions, cultures, and value systems.

Despite efforts to build peace in the area, conflict prevailed. When HOPE International Development Agency first asked how we could help, the common response was, “We can’t eat peace training”. A completely understandable response when you consider that nearly 80% of the people in the area lived in poverty and were constantly hungry because of conflict and instability.

To have peace basic needs have to be met

In 2010, HOPE International Development Agency began supporting peace through an integrated program that addresses the basic needs of families through a partnership focused on providing them with access to clean water and agricultural training while working with communities to understand and address the roots of conflict.

  Laying water pipe that will carry clean water to the community.

  Tilling the soil and growing food rather than participating in conflict.

Laying down weapons and picking up farm tools

At the same time, and as part of its transformation from conflict to peace, Kauswagan implemented an “arms to farms” program that provided opportunities for people involved in armed conflict to participate in a new way of life centered on farming rather than fighting.

The local government committed itself to creating and implementing initiatives relevant to the needs of everyone in the area, including those involved in conflict.

As a result, and over a period of time, nine rebel commanders and more than 100 of their men laid down their weapons, picked up farm tools, and embraced organic farming.

Finding a way to trust and prosper together

Years of distrust and skepticism were slowly set aside and today, former rebels are busy planting crops, raising livestock, and managing fish ponds that produce fish for the area.

The increase in the number of farmers in Kauswagan and the corresponding reduction in conflict, has helped reduce the poverty rate in the area from nearly 80 per cent to just below 48 per cent. A remarkable transformation!

Peace is well worth the effort

Bringing peace to areas like Kauswagan, where poverty and conflict have caused decades of suffering, is not easy to achieve. Addressing basic needs can be an important part of increasing trust and cooperation and decreasing conflict.

The effort and long-term commitment are well worth it when the result is peace and a significant reduction in poverty.

In fact, the results are so profound that Kauswagan is often visited by officials from other areas who want to discover how to bring peace and promote development in their areas.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Being thankful is a way of life for Sujon and his family

Family, friendship, and thankfulness, that’s what Canadians had an opportunity to experience this past Thanksgiving weekend.

Here at home, being thankful is most often reserved for days like Thanksgiving, but for Sujon and his family, being thankful is a daily occurrence in their home in southern Bangladesh.

Sujon was just 4-years-old when his mother left him, his two brothers, and father. Living in a constant state of extreme poverty was simply too much for Sujon’s mother.

In the years that followed, Sujon and his family continued to languish in poverty.

Despite his best efforts, Sujon’s father, a 3-wheel cart puller, struggled to earn enough income to keep his family fed and housed. The situation became so desperate that Sujon and his two brothers had to quit school and become day labourers.

One day, when Sujon was looking for daily labour work, he heard about HOPE International Development Agency and a program that provides small, ultra-low interest loans to help families, like his, improve their lives.

Within minutes of hearing of the exciting news Sujon ran off to find his father to tell him about the loan program. A short while later Sujon’s father applied for a small loan, and with the money he received he was able to buy a 3-wheel cart of his own and also begin cultivating rice.

Years have passed since Sujon’s father received the first small loan that began to transform his family from poor to self-reliant.

Today, Sujon is 17-years-old and much has changed. His father’s business continues to thrive, as it has for years. Sujon recently passed his high school exam and is preparing to continue his education at the next level and his brothers have achieved as well.

“My family is thankful for the support we received from HOPE International Development Agency. It made it possible for us to start a new life,” says Sujon, who hopes that other families can get the same kind of help that his family received so many years ago.

Nearly 40 Thanksgiving Days have passed since HOPE International Development Agency began helping the world’s poorest families, like Sujon’s, transform their lives, and we are thankful every day for each person who has received the help they needed.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Koshale is now a place of hope because of clean water

Our 6-part series about clean water in Koshale, Ethiopia, concludes with Werkinshe’s story.

Before clean water was available in the community of Koshale, women, including pregnant women like Werkinshe, who was 9-months pregnant at the time of this story, trekked up to 5-hours a day in search of water.

A dangerous journey
Their journey took them through dusty valleys and up incredibly steep paths best described as rock-strewn goat trails. The footing on the hillside trails was treacherous at best, especially in the rainy season.

Women, including expectant mothers, have been injured when they lost their footing in the muck and slippery rock that cover the trails during the seasonal rains. If a pregnant woman fell down the hillside there could be dire consequences for her unborn child.

A potentially tragic outcome
For expectant mothers, surviving the daily trek in search of clean water was only half of the battle. Giving birth in a community without enough water, let alone clean water, could be deadly for mother and child.

Clean water protects and nurtures life
The arrival of clean water in Koshale, via pipes that bring the water from a protected spring in the hills surrounding the community, means that women, including expectant mothers, can gather water from community taps, mere minutes from their homes.

The treacherous trek through the hills is no longer necessary. Women, especially expectant mothers, no longer worry about being injured or dying during the trek. Mother and baby survival rates have increased dramatically in Koshale as a result of clean water being readily available right in the community.

Werkinshe (shown above) and her baby will be among the first to benefit from having clean water near her home in Koshale. She will not have to worry that her baby will be infected with parasites when born because the community health worker will have plenty of clean, safe water on hand. And if more is needed, it’s just minutes away.

A new focus for Koshale
Having clean water available in Koshale is enabling families to transform their lives. Diseases that used to be brought to the community by contaminated water gathered from filthy ponds and streambeds in the hills, is no longer a threat.

Time, formerly spent gathering water, is now invested in growing more food, educating children, and improving life in the community. The worry, caused by not having clean water readily available, is gone and has been replaced by hope.

A child from Koshale summed it up best when she said, “We have no more sickness from water. Clean water is new life to us!”

What a rich reward to see these children healthy and happy. While this ends our series on Koshale, we know it is just the beginning for families in the community.

Read previous posts in this series:
Proper sanitation ensures that gains made in Koshale are not lost
Securing more than just a future with clean water
Being in one place makes all the difference
A place to call home
Changing lives in Koshale

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Typhoon Haiyan is long gone, but the devastation remains for millions of people in the Philippines

When Typhoon Haiyan departed the Philippines 11 months ago it left 16 million people devastated and 6,000 dead.

Today, the effects of Haiyan are still very present. Millions of Filipinos continue to struggle as they attempt to rebuild their lives after losing everything.

People like Nancy (shown above) and her husband Efren, parents of two young children, are among the families we are helping.

Nancy remembers the killer storm all too well.

“Our house just flew away,” recalls Nancy. “We were clinging to each other and praying that the storm would subside soon! It was like being inside a washing machine,” says Nancy, remembering the terror of having no way to escape the vicious storm.

Winds, gusting as high as 300 kilometers per hour, combined with torrential rain, and flash floods choked with debris, destroyed everything in storm’s path.

“At first we panicked. Then fear set in when we realized that nothing remained but the soaked, torn clothes on our backs. Within hours our children were hungry and this continued for days. We ate anything we could scavenge,” recalls Nancy.

The task is massive. Families, like Nancy and Efren’s, need to rebuild the homes, food supply, and livelihoods taken by the storm.

What’s Been Done
We began helping survivors the moment the storm left the Philippines. More than 58 tonnes of rice, 90,000 cans of sardines, tonnes of clean water, and emergency shelter kits have been provided, helping care for nearly 10,000 people in the months following the disaster.

What’s Happening Now
Our help continues today and will do so until as many families as possible have rebuilt their lives. In the coming months alone, we will be helping more than 6,000 families rebuild their homes, food supply, and livelihoods.

HOPE International Development Agency is providing housing repair kits that will enable families to repair their modest homes or, where needed, build new, sturdy homes.

Seeds, tools, and the training needed to create family vegetable gardens that will help families regain their food self-sufficiency are also being provided.

In addition, small, seaworthy fishing boats that will be shared by 3 families are being provided in order to help families rebuild their livelihoods.

During the killer storm Nancy and Efren prayed that they would survive.

Today, they, and other families not yet helped, are praying that a compassionate person will help them rebuild their lives and become self-reliant again.

Help a family in the Philippines as they struggle to recover from Typhoon Haiyan.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A field of possibilities

The transforming power of water, seeds, and farm animals is clearly evident among the poorest families of Cambodia’s Pursat Province. Water quenches thirst. Seeds grow into food. Farm animals provide labour and food.

But there’s another, equally transforming benefit of having clean water, seeds, and farm animals - freedom from fear and worry.

Nara and his wife Chek used to live in a state of fear and worry. Providing for their 6 children, as well as Nara’s mother and older sister, was always a struggle.

The family of 10, all of whom live under one roof in the village of Kab Korlanh in Pursat Province, did the best they could to grow enough rice to eat. Yet despite their effort, the 1.2 hectares of land they own only managed to yield around 2,000 kg of rice per year.

After selling about three quarters of their harvest to pay back loans they took in order buy seeds, fertilizer, food, other items for their farm, they would end up with only enough rice to last 4 months. This meant 8 months of hard times where there was never enough to eat.

To make up the shortage, Nara, Chek, and Nara’s mother and sister would work as day labourers, planting and harvesting rice in the fields of other farmers. The small income they managed to earn, however, was never enough. Nara and Chek would be forced to take yet another loan just to make sure no one in the family went hungry.

Today, however, it’s a completely different story.

Nara and his family no longer live in a state of fear and worry. Their precarious situation has been replaced with freedom from fear and worry – all because of the support they received from friends of HOPE International Development Agency who gave to transform the lives of Nara and his family.

Through this support Nara and his family learned new techniques for growing rice. They also gained access to a variety of rice seed that can be planted up to three times per year as opposed to once per year when using the rice seed that is traditionally used in the area.

The family’s first harvest this year yielded 4,000 kg of rice, more than double what they managed to harvest in the entire previous year. This year alone, they’ll plant and harvest a total of three times, rather than just once.

Nara and Chek are overjoyed at their success. They know that their entire family will have more than enough to eat. Today, Nara doesn’t worry that his children will not have enough to eat. The happiness and pride he feels as a father able to provide for his family is so profound that he has a hard time putting it into words.

The benefits of gaining access to training and better rice seed don’t end with simply having enough to eat.

The extra income Nara and Chek now earn as a result of selling excess rice from their three harvests has enabled them to buy a bicycle for their children, giving them a more reliable and much safer way to get to school. For Nara, it’s not so much the bicycle itself, but rather, the fact that he and Chek can now afford to improve the lives of their children. Being able to get to school means that the children will have a chance at a much better life than Nara and Chek experienced when they were children.

All of this has resulted in Nara and Chek no longer living in fear and worry.

All it took to transform their lives was some training and a new variety of rice seed. This family of 10 people now has a new outlook on life and the 6 children are excited, rather than fearful, about their future as an entirely different set of possibilities have begun to sprout.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Proper sanitation ensures that the gains made in Koshale by having clean water are not lost

Over the past few weeks we’ve been sharing stories of how clean water transforms lives in Koshale, including how having access to clean water, right in a community, increases personal safety for women and children, improves health, and makes it possible to grow more food.

Yet all of these dramatic improvements can be put at risk if proper sanitation is not present.

Potentially deadly diseases, eradicated at the original water source by protecting it from contamination from people and animals, can show up in the community, not at the water tap, but everywhere else because of uninformed sanitation practices.

At first glance you’d think it would be easy for people to change these practices. But just think of how uncomfortable it can be for you to use a public washroom stall in a shopping mall and you can get a sense of how challenging it can be to encourage community members to use walled pit latrines, rather than type of personal privacy they’re used to in the great outdoors.

Walled pit latrines – our equivalent would be a toilet in a bathroom – make it possible to safely manage human waste.

Without proper sanitation facilities and practices, the gains made by having access to clean water can be quickly reduced or erased.

Next to clean water, proper sanitation, or the use of pit latrines, is one of the biggest factors in improving the health of families in rural communities.

It’s not the most glamorous aspect of what we do in communities in Ethiopia, but it’s incredibly important. Why? Not only is it awkward and smelly to accidentally walk into something another person has left behind, open defecation is also a huge public health challenge. It can expose people to diseases such as polio, giardiasis, hepatitis A and infectious diarrhoea.

Families in Koshale are learning about the importance of proper personal sanitation, including hand-washing, and the construction and use of walled pit latrines. Ethiopian staff visit with communities and individual families, teaching them how to prevent the occurrence or spread of diseases related to improper sanitation practices that can harm and kill.

In Koshale, reducing open defecation is not about spending money to build fancy toilets like we would expect in a public place or our homes. It’s about changing behaviours. It is not always easy to change the way you have been doing something all your life, but staff are persistent in helping families understand why it is important and how it is done.

Something we take for granted, and frankly many of us still do not do, like washing our hands before preparing food, or after using the washroom, are concepts that families in Koshale have never been exposed to.

But once families learn about the importance of proper sanitation, and know what to do, they exchange their old habits for healthier habits, construct their owned walled pit latrines, keep them clean, and even create small washing stations just outside the latrine.

Now, instead of feeling ashamed and embarrassed about bodily functions and trying to search for a private place in the great outdoors every time they need to relieve themselves, mothers, fathers and children use the latrines.

When we visit families they often proudly show off their latrines. And we are so honoured to help them show off because we can see evidence of how the change they have made has positively impacted their health!

Read previous posts in this series:
Securing more than just a future with clean water
Being in one place makes all the difference
A place to call home
Changing lives in Koshale

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Securing more than just a future with clean water

Clean water dramatically changes people’s lives.

This is especially true for women and children whose daily physical burden is greatly reduced by not having to fetch water located far from their village.

Clean water also improves the health of vital livestock, enhances household farming activities, and provides a center-point around which families can build their communities and have hope for the future.

For women and children in Koshale, the community wash-basin has become a symbol of safety, security, and a place to socialize.

Prior to having water available right in their communities, women and children traveled to isolated water sources to fetch water. Sometimes they were alone, in the early or late hours of the day, gathering water or completing household chores such as laundry and washing. Unfortunately, they were always vulnerable to a number of threats to their own personal security.

These threats included attacks by dangerous wild animals, unexpected environmental changes such as storms or flash floods, and victimization from people outside of their protective community groups.

Today, with the installation of a cement wash basin in Koshale, women and children are able to complete their household tasks safely and securely, within steps of their homes. The basin has become a place where women and children gather together to work, converse, and support one another.

Beyond having clean water and a safe place to congregate and do household chores, there are other ways in which a sense of increased security continues to thrive in Koshale.

HOPE International Development Agency has ensured that the community is protected from future hardship by providing a large water reservoir that guarantees fresh, clean, safe drinking water for the entire community even in the event that all other sources run dry due to drought.

Clean water does so much more than alleviate thirst – it has the power to protect entire communities, especially women and children, from the threat of violence and insecurity. Clean water represents health, safety, and hope.

Please stay tuned for the final installment of this five-part series on the changes happening in Koshale because your support and the gift of clean water.

Read previous posts in this series:
Being in one place makes all the difference
A place to call home
Changing lives in Koshale

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Freedom from poverty in Moneragala, Sri Lanka

  Siriyawathie and husband with their cows.

Families in Moneragala, Sri Lanka, are among the poorest in the country. Yet the soil beneath their feet and the surrounding environment are considered resource-rich.

We’re helping families in Moneragala learn how to use the resources around them in a way that transforms their lives and sustains their environment.

Siriyawathie, a 40-year old Sri Lankan mother of two children, is a wonderful example of the kind of transformation that takes place when people are able to learn how to use the resources around them.

Siriyawathie faced the same hunger, sickness, and lack of opportunity currently being experienced by families in Moneragala. But the difference is she received the help she needed.

Today, Siriyawathie is a leader in her community, and a role model for other families who aspire to be free from poverty.

The training Siriyawathie received in bookkeeping and farming, along with a modest low-interest loan, enabled her family to establish a small, but highly productive organic farm. The produce, harvested throughout the year, is in high demand, earning the family $50 per month in additional income. Seeds from her farm are freely shared with other families in her community, enabling them to avoid the high cost of buying seeds. Her children, currently in grades 11 and 13, are excelling in school.

In short, life is very good!

The same transformation will happen to families in Moneragala when they receive the help they so desperately need and we’re hoping that you’ll be able to help today.

Learn more about how you can help with a gift today.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Being in one place makes all the difference

Bordele and his wife inside their vegetable garden.

Last week, we shared how Mazegbo and her family have been able to permanently settle in their community and no longer need to migrate in search of water for their cattle.

This week, we are sharing another positive outcome associated with being able to settle in one place and have clean water.

Being in one place, in one community, with a reliable source of clean water, has enabled families like Bordele’s to cultivate crops and plant a vegetable garden.

Before, when water was not close by, it was impossible to grow a crops or vegetables. There simply was not enough water for cultivation and growing during the dry season. On top of this, the family could not count on being around all the time as they would often have to migrate to care for their cattle.

Today, with a garden and some crops already planted, families in Koshale, like Bordele’s, are growing and harvesting many different vegetables and grains. This means people have a greater variety in their diet and are much healthier. It also means families do not have to buy their vegetables from the local market, which they could rarely afford. Now, Bordele and his family often have enough harvest to sell for some extra cash to pay for medical or educational expenses.

The work of planting crops and tending a vegetable garden is not always easy, but Bordele and his wife are grateful for training they have received from our local staff and the opportunity they have to cultivate a better life for themselves and their children.

We are excited about the changes in Koshale that have resulted from bringing clean water to the community. Stay tuned

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A place to call home

Last week we brought you the story of Mazegbo, a mother who used to trek up to five hours a day to fetch her family’s drinking and cooking water from a muddy river bank.

Today, Mazegbo has safe, clean water within steps from her home and it has made a world of difference for her and her family – they are healthier, happier, and more prosperous because of this gift of clean water.

But the story doesn’t really end there.

Before HOPE International Development Agency’s support, Mazegbo and her neighbours, all of whom are cattle herders, lived a semi-nomadic life.  During the dry season they moved from place to place in search of water and nutrient-rich grasses to sustain their animals. When the little water and grasses they could find were depleted, they moved on. Unfortunately for Mazegbo and the other families, every dry season a large number of cows – their most valuable asset – died from dehydration. The death of a cow was always a heartbreaking loss to these families, both emotionally and financially.

Since the clean water began flowing from the new water system in Koshale, families are healthier and so are their livelihoods. Their cows and other animals are thriving and families have been able to settle in the village.

“No more cattle death! At any moment when the family needs money we just exchange with goats. I have no words to talk how my family and the entire community is satisfied with the support of HOPE International Development Agency’s good work,” says Mazegbo.

One water system, from a single, protected water spring, now supplies clean water to the entire village of Koshale. For the first time in their lives, Mazegbo and the other cattle herders of the area have established roots in one place. They no longer have to fear the oncoming dry season and what sorrow it will bring. Because of clean water, easily accessible in their village, their children have a home and a community to grow up in.

Clean water, especially in Koshale, Ethiopia, truly is life. Along with the gift of water flow changes that are much greater and deeper than the eye can see. It nourishes people, it sustains communities, and it revitalizes landscapes.

Stayed tuned for next week’s post as we continue to explore all the spectacular changes happening in Koshale and we see how Mazegbo and the other villagers are using clean water to transform their lives.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Changing lives in Koshale, Ethiopia, with a nearby source of clean water

Last year, we partnered with the people of Koshale, Ethiopia, to build a water system. Today, thousands of families living in this extremely rural and difficult to access location have clean water to drink.

Recently, local HOPE International Development Agency staff visited the village of Koshale to see how things are going and how families are doing.

Once again, mothers have attested to the positive changes they continue to see in their lives and their families, and we want to share these stories with you.

Mazegbo's previous source of water - a muddy river bank.
For Mazegbo, a nearby source of clean water means that she has reclaimed at least five hours per day which she can spend on activities other than walking to fetch water.

Before the water system was built, Mazegbo would carry at least 20kg of water she had collected from a shallow hole in the sand on the river bank. The walk home would take about two and a half hours as she laboured up steep, rocky trails back to her home.

"For 38 years I traveled five hours a day to fetch water for my family, but now I have water point in my neighborhood", says  Mazegbo, who is now able to use her new found time in the garden, growing vegetables for her family, as well as on other activities around her home. Mazegbo no longer worries about the water making her children sick. She knows the water is clean and safe for her family.

Mazegbo's new source of clean water - a tap (water point) right in her village.
We have written about the impact that a clean, nearby source of water has on families often, and will continue to do so in the future, because it never ceases to raise profound stories from mothers, children, and fathers that are benefiting.

In the next few weeks we are excited to explore with you a few of the myriad of ways lives are being changed. We will look into some nooks and crannies of how these women, men, and children express the changes they are making and seeing in their lives.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The strongest people we know

The kind of strength we see among the families we work with in the world’s poorest communities is not characterized by blazing speed or the ability to lift, carry, push, pull, or throw the heaviest of objects. Nor is it glamorized or rewarded with medals, trophies, and parades. The kind of strength we see is the kind that can bring even the mentally strongest and athletically gifted here at home to tears.

The strength we see is the kind that enables a mother to walk 4-hours a day, in what would be unbearable conditions for us, to find and gather water for her thirsty children. It is the strength that drives her to work from dawn to dusk to grow the few vegetables she will feed to her children, knowing there she will most likely go hungry. It is the strength that makes it possible for her to lift, carry, push, or throw well beyond her physical stature in order to provide for her family, even though her back-breaking labor produces less than $1.50 per day. It is the strength to wake up every day and do what must be done in order to care for the ones she loves, even though she is suffering from a debilitating illness.

These are the strong people HOPE International Development Agency connects to and works with every day. We work with people who, despite being in their darkest days, are eager and motivated to do better for themselves and their families – all they need is a little help and a little hope.

For nearly four decades, we have worked with strong people who despite their impoverished circumstance, find a way. It is grandmothers who find a way to become sole providers for their grandchildren as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic having taken their grandchildren’s parents. It is rural indigenous youth who find a way to succeed academically and become leaders in their communities. It is communities that find a way to build, with your help, their own wells, clinics, schools, and cooperatives.

You will never find this kind of strength gracing the cover of a magazine, but you will find it in the hearts and minds of the families and communities we are so privileged to work with because of the support people like you provide.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

You do not always know how profound your support can be for families in need

It was three years ago when the United Nations estimated that 50,000 people in Mynamar, a small country in Southeast Asia, were displaced due to conflict between the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the Myanmar government.

Ever since, HOPE international Development Agency has been working to provide life-saving support to internally displaced people living in an informal camp in Kachin state.

Recently, we met with one of our female staff that had just visited a camp of families displaced by conflict in Myanmar. With great emotion she tearfully recalled how dramatically our support has positively impacted these families. She described how when violence broke out between the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the Myanmar government, families did not know what to do or where to go to flee the violence. So they withdrew to the borderlands of Myanmar, literally a stone's throw from China.

Unfortunately, these families did not realize that by fleeing into KIO territory, larger international organizations that usually provide support in refugee camps were not able to access the area to provide any relief support. So for many, many months, families languished in the camps with no outside support. They had fled from their homes empty handed, and when they arrived at a place that felt safer than where they left, there was no help: no shelter, no food rations, no water.

It was a tragedy, and when we heard about the situation, we responded. We knew that our support was relatively small in comparison to the great need, but we also knew that we could not stand by as these displaced families suffered.

What we did not know at the time was that our support served as a catalyst for other international organizations to also move in and support these families. Since then, many other organizations saw that it was possible to access the area where these families are, and are now also providing life saving food, shelter, water, and latrines.

Listening to our colleague, we were reminded that we do not always know how profoundly our support will impact mothers and their children who have fled from violence. No matter how many emergencies that families are facing all around the world, we know that we will continue to provide whatever support we can. And when that support is able to somehow make it possible for others to help these families as well, we are profoundly humbled and moved knowing that somehow what we did helped reach more than we ever hoped or imagined.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

South Sudan is slipping towards famine - millions of people are at risk right now

A massive crisis is happening in South Sudan, yet it remains largely unnoticed as international news remains focused on the turmoil in Gaza and Ukraine.

South Sudan, Africa’s newest nation, is on the brink of famine, the likes of which has not been seen since the 1984 famine in Ethiopia which killed hundreds of thousands of people and left millions destitute.

A desperate situation
  • Nearly 1 million people on the move in search of food and safety
  • In total, nearly 5.3 million people are in crisis right now
  • Prices for food that can be found have soared by 135%
  • Nearly 1 in 3 children under the age of 5 are abnormally small
The Ibba region, where we’ve been helping families displaced by the crisis, remains a safe haven. But the food shortage is becoming more acute every day. We urgently need to increase our efforts to save lives.

You can save lives right now

An emergency gift from you today of just $65 will provide 1 person with food for three months, until the next harvest. A very generous gift of $390 will ensure an entire family survives.

Your gift today also helps provide seeds families can plant right away and harvest in December, ensuring that they will have enough to eat in December and into the New Year.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Growing hope, one garden at a time

The season of barbecues, bike riding, and farmer’s markets is upon us. As I peruse the bountiful selection of brilliantly coloured produce and take in the delicious aromas of freshly baked home-style breads and artisan cheeses, with which I will fill the basket on my treasured two-wheeled speedster for tonight’s family feast, I’m left with a deep sense of gratitude and wonder. How amazing it is to have all we need, and more, come straight from the earth that surrounds us. Here at home,, summer is truly a time to be thankful.

But for millions of farmers in communities far less fortunate than mine, the harvest season is full of apprehension. If you are a farming family, it’s the time of year that decides how well (or not) your family will live in the coming months. If you are a family without a vegetable garden or farm, the season has little to offer other than a continuation of the chronic hunger you live with all year long.

Unlike here at home, in many of the communities where HOPE International Development Agency works, the link between the harvest and life is unmistakable and unforgiving. A good harvest means a better tomorrow. A bad harvest means hunger, illness, or worse.

The world’s poorest subsistence farmers have no safety net - they have no access to credit or insurance that will protect them and their families if their fields flood, their crops spoil, or the harvest fails.

The earth is a wonderful resource, and with the proper skills and support, even the poorest of the poor can thrive off of the earth’s bounty.

In South Africa, for example, a group of grandmothers, many of whom have become the primary caregivers to their grandchildren as a result of the devastating impact of AIDS, are proving hope is never lost when you are given the opportunity to support yourself and the ones you love.

These grannies are successfully using the tools and the training provided by HOPE International Development Agency to start their own gardens and provide for their families. And, it’s not just their families that are thriving. Their communities are too as a result of abundance of fresh and healthy vegetables for sale in their small local markets. In South Africa, hope grows among the lettuce and the bell peppers.

So the next time you find yourself at your local market preparing for that  family barbecue, please take a moment to reflect on what those rows of carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers mean to so many around the world. We are so fortunate and we have the ability to help others feel that way too – so why wouldn’t we?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Youth are breaking the cycle of conflict in Sri Lanka

More than 25 years of violent conflict in Sri Lanka ended in 2009, yet the country remains traumatized.

Ethnic tension, between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority persists, and sometimes it seems as if nothing has been learned through the trauma of decades of civil war.

It’s been 5-years since the brutal civil war ended, yet there are still few opportunities for the two groups to interact and forge a true and lasting peace that would benefit everyone, especially families whose villages were ravaged by the conflict.

Reconciliation between ethnic groups has fallen to the wayside as the country tackles the extensive rebuilding process. Yet if tensions are not adequately addressed, reducing animosity between ethnic groups becomes less and less feasible.

Communities have been profoundly impacted, in a negative way, by the discord between the Sinhalese and Tamil populations. The events and violence of the decades-long conflict are not easily undone or reconciled, as evidenced by the fact that a culture of violence is still very present.

Learning is an effective way to overcome the legacy of violence.

In the midst of the enduring hostility, there is an opportunity to foster unity among youth.

In Nuiwara Eliya, east of Colombo and about half-way across the island, HOPE International Development Agency is working with students to eradicate hatred and animosity among their ethnic groups and families.

Youth from all ethnic groups are participating. Opportunities for open and respectful discussion between students regarding ethnicity are woven into the process of helping young people learn basic skills that increase their employability, including languages, math, and practical skills such as sewing. Over the course of their education, youth are learning from each other and are connecting on a new level, the results of which are peace and understanding rather than conflict.

Young people are beginning to see humanity in each other, where before there was only hostility regarding their ethnicity. Timely, positive direction, as well as education, is enabling youth to be engaged in promoting non-violence, learning to work together, educating each other, and resisting cultural discourses that promote violence.

In meeting people’s practical needs we’re also meeting an equally important need - peace. 

Rebuilding Sri Lanka's social fabric continues to be a challenge. HOPE International Development Agency is committed to addressing the challenge of ethnic reconciliation and peace in whatever way we can.

In the face of a legacy of violence, our efforts sometimes feel like the proverbial drop in the bucket, yet what is a bucket of water but a multitude of drops?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Water is dangerous to get and drink in Pachalum, Guatemala

Gathering water is a stressful and dangerous endeavor in Antonia’s community of Pachalum, in Guatemala’s impoverished El Quiché region.

Antonia, a 40-year old mother of four young children, can attest to the danger, “I was carrying my full water barrel and slipped on a rock, breaking my leg and my barrel”.

Other mothers in Pachalum worry as well, and for good reason.

“My children drink contaminated water,” says 25-year old Rubidia, knowing that there’s literally nothing she can do about it or the skin infections caused by the water they gather.

Catarina, a 30-year old mother, experiences chronic back pain from carrying heavy water containers every morning, some of which can weigh as much as 10 to 20 kilograms when full. Her bigger concern, however, is that her children are constantly sick from drinking the contaminated water from their current water hole.

HOPE International Development Agency is helping Antonia, Rubidia, and Catrina gain access to safe drinking water.

When the water system is complete, the safe water will be piped right into Pachalum, saving mothers, and their children, a lot of time and stress.

Their new community water source will make it possible for mothers to cook without fear that they water they are using could harm their children. Their children will be able to drink the water without fear of getting sick. The children will also be able to bathe more than once a week, and never have to worry about getting skin infections, like the ones that scar their bodies now.

If you’d like to help Antonia, Rubidia, and Catarina, please donate what you can today.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Our resolve provides certainty for families in South Sudan whose world is very uncertain right now

Communities in South Sudan face great uncertainty as a much politicized conflict rages. Lives have been lost and catastrophe, in the form of a massive famine, looms.

Almost ten years ago, when a seemingly elusive peace finally took hold, HOPE International Development Agency began providing relief support, and shortly thereafter, started helping people rebuild their lives. We knew it would be challenging and we knew our resolve to help needed to be unwavering.

Today, our resolve still stands firm as we continue to help families in communities throughout rural Ibba, located near South Sudan’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

If we were to rely solely on international news to gain a picture of life in Ibba, our perception would be that everything has once again changed for the worst amidst the political conflict that has engulfed parts of South Sudan.

Yet we know, from colleagues working with families in Ibba, that life is not as dramatically affected by the bursts of conflict as we might expect or perceive based on the international news.

The biggest concern mothers and fathers are dealing with in Ibba is providing for their children in the face of a lack of potable water, repeated crop failures, unreliable rains, and occasional attacks from small, marauding militant groups that are only loosely, if at all, connected to the larger conflicts covered in the international news.

So what are we to make of all this?

For HOPE International Development Agency and our colleagues in Ibba, we continue to address the issues communities face. We know that the country is in turmoil, and we also know that these families have received little public attention. Their day-to-day struggle goes all but unnoticed as they continue to plant the few seeds they have and send their children to 'tree schools' in the hope of giving them a more promising future. Hundreds of children meet under trees and receive instruction from semi-literate community members who are doing their best to pass on and teach what they know.

Our focus continues to be helping one community at a time, enabling them to build proper schools for their children and drill water wells that provide clean water.

We know that it is not easy. The challenges faced by each community are daunting.

Yet we also know that we are helping change the lives, and futures, of children and adults, even in the face of uncertainty.

The evidence is in the notes of thanks we regularly receive from people in Ibba, who often say, “We have been praying for clean water. We thank God because we have it now. Thank you!”

So while the conflicts continue around the people of Ibba, we continue in our resolve to help families rebuild their lives, whatever may come.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

At the very least, now we know we can survive, somehow

Resiliency has become a bit of a buzz word these days in various forums as world leaders consider how to prepare for and address the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

Resilience is the ability to spring back into shape after being bent, stretched or compressed; it is the capacity to withstand or recover quickly from challenging conditions.

In the Philippines, we are humbled when we see the personal resiliency of men, women, and families that have survived and lived through months of hardship and challenging circumstances.

Over 7 months ago, Super Typhoon Yolanda (also known as Typhoon Haiyan) hit the Philippines, affecting more the 16 million people. It was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in recorded history.

HOPE International Development Agency has been working alongside families in communities where no one else was helping; this started with food relief and helping to make emergency repairs on buildings such as schools.

Now, as the focus has shifted to rebuilding infrastructure, life is returning to a 'new normal'. Local staff are helping families create safe shelters, grow nutritious food, including eggplant, okra, tomatoes, peppers, squash, spinach, long beans, and corn.

HOPE International Development Agency is also helping families regain their livelihoods by helping fisherfolk whose boats and nets have been destroyed. This work will continue helping thousands of families take the next step towards regaining their self-reliance.

In the meantime, families have been sharing with local staff what the support provided has meant to them. This statement is simple and hopeful, yet also encapsulates the profound change in perspective regarding fragility, vulnerability, and most of all, a new sense of resiliency in the face of future adversity.

Reynaldo, a 55 year old, from Tacloban says:

“I have lost a family member and now I have felt somehow our life will never be going back to normalcy. But with the help of people like you, it felt good to have some semblance of hope.

At the very least, now we know we can survive, somehow.

Before I die, it is good to know that my family will have a roof on their heads.  We are starting to eat three meals a day again — just like what we had before.”

* HOPE International Development gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Government of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development towards the ongoing work in the Philippines.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mom Peng discovers the secret to happiness

In just one year, Mom Peng and her family have gone from hungry to happy and they owe much of their success to a tiny rice seed that defies the odds during Cambodia’s scorching dry season.

Before the arrival of this impressive little seed, Mom Peng and her family, along with every other family in her community, would go without rice for as many as 5 months. But that was only part of the problem. Despite the best efforts of families like Mom Peng’s, when the rice ran out the money ran out as well. With no rice to sell for income, families were forced to scavenge for food or trade their labor for meager bowls of rice too small to sustain their health.

In impoverished situations, a lack of money can be equally as deadly as a lack of food, as Mom Peng and her children found out when they couldn’t put together the small amount of money needed to take her husband to the hospital, which, in the end, cost him his life.

Fortunately, in 2013, Mom Peng received the training and practical support she needed in order to grow all the food her family needs. She also significantly increased her income.

Today, Mom Peng and her family grow 3 huge crops of rice every year rather than just one small crop. The rice that the family doesn’t eat or store for future use is sold at the local market, generating a much needed source of consistent income.

The family enjoys three nutritious meals every day – hunger is a thing of the past. The children are in school and have a much better life than Mom Peng experienced as a child. The family even has two bicycles and plans are in the works for improving the sturdiness and size of her modest home.

The family enjoys three nutritious meals every day – hunger is a thing of the past. The children are in school and have a much better life than Mom Peng experienced as a child. The family even has two bicycles and plans are in the works for improving the sturdiness and size of her modest home.

Unfortunately, right now, however, there are families in the villages of Bakan and Kab Krolang, Cambodia, who urgently need the same kind of help Mom Peng received.

If you would like to help a family put food on the table all year round and earn a sustainable income, you can give a gift that will help provide:

  • High-quality dry season rice seeds that require less water, mature quickly, and produce 2 to 3 times as much harvest
  • Training on how to maximize the productivity of rice fields, without harming the environment or the long-term sustainability of the rice harvests
  • The knowledge and support needed in order to earn much more income on a consistent and sustainable basis
  • A community “seed bank” for members of the community
  • Water pumps needed to irrigate the rice fields at certain times

Friday, May 30, 2014

New beginnings for farm families in Haiti

Historically, Haiti is a country rich in agriculture, but in recent years, natural disasters, soil erosion, droughts, and flooding have made life for farmers extremely difficult.

In just 15 years, Haiti has become one of the most food-insecure countries in the world.

Mother and farmer Jeannette Exarin knows what it means to live with chronic food shortages.

Jeannette and her four children live on a small piece of land she inherited from her grandparents. Of her four children, Jeanette can only afford to send one of her daughters to school. The other children stay home and work alongside their mother, trying to coax crops from the soil. Despite their best efforts, hardly anything grows.

In May of last year, however, life changed for Jeannette and her children when they joined a HOPE International Development Agency cooperative of more than 100 farming families.

The goal of the cooperative is to increase access to food, create sustainable and improved incomes for farmers, and provide ongoing access to quality, drought-resistant seeds.

Jeannette received seeds to grow nutritious vegetables such as carrots, Swiss chard, spinach, sweet corn, and beans. The seeds are drought resistant and have a much greater chance of surviving from planting to harvest. She also received agricultural training and tools for rehabilitating her land, making it much more fertile.

As a result, this season Jeannette and her children grew a bountiful harvest of vegetables and also earned more than $80 selling extra harvest at the market - money that she used to send her children to school, and buy 4 hens that now have 8 chicks each.

Jeanette and her family are an example of the transformation that happens when people come together around a common goal.

The farmers cooperatives, which range in size from 100 to 500 farmers not only provide physical support, they create a community where positive change takes place. They also enable farmers to exchange valuable information quickly, and provide a collective voice, rallying government for more investment in agriculture.